A Rhode Island Catholic high school student recently organized a protest demonstration against two pieces of anti-trans legislation introduced in the state’s General Assembly.
Uprise RI reported that an 18-year-old senior at St. Mary Academy-Bay View, who only gave her first name, Sabrina, was the driving force behind the demonstration at the Rhode Island State House attended by students from three dozen high schools.
“I’m hoping to let some people that work in our State House know that this is not okay. I want them to be able to see the faces of the people they’re going to be affecting,” she told the news outlet.” I want them to see us standing out here and realize that these are the faces of the people standing behind the papers they’re signing and that these are the people who are going to be directly affected.”
Sabrina, who came out to her family in seventh grade, explains she was motivated to act after a trans friend was kicked out of his home: “Watching what he had to go through, and watching [his family] be so heartless as to kick out their own flesh and blood just because of their gender identity broke my heart into a million little pieces.”
“And when I saw what happened in Florida with the Don’t Say Gay bill, obviously I was really upset, but then I saw it come to my state, which I never, ever thought was even possible.”
The two bills introduced into the RI legislature were sponsored by Senator Elaine Morgan and Representative Patricia Morgan, both Republicans in a heavily Democratic state. The Senate bill bars transgender youth from participating in sports that don’t match their assigned gender at birth, whereas the House proposal attacks curriculum in public schools. The latter is largely an attempt to ban critical race theory, but also includes a clause reading: “Children shall be addressed using their common names and the pronouns associated with their biological gender unless parental or guardian permission to do otherwise is obtained.”
“This is insanely horrific, what Rhode Island is trying to pass right now,” said Reilly, a non-binary student who spoke at the event. They explained their gratitude for already participating in a non-gendered sport: “But now with this new bill, that’s going to take this right away from other kids.” Currently, the RI Interscholastic League which oversees high school sports across the state explicitly allows athletes to participate in sports “consistent with their gender identity.”
Among those attending the march were a number of other students from Bay View, which is run by the Sisters of Mercy. The school does host an LGBTQ+ club for students and stands in the long tradition of social justice advocacy of the Mercy world.
—Angela Howard McParland, New Ways Ministry, April 19, 2022